Conversations with an Indie Diva (The Manitoban)

By Andrea Caron, September 12th, 2001

Manitoba grown singer/songwriter Monica Schroeder recently brought her singular talent to the Orbit Room on Pembina Highway. The occasion was the video release party for the song “Waiting,” which is the lovely and haunting lead-off track from her indie album “The Expectation of Home.” The song was recently nominated for best pop album at the prairie Music Alliance’s Prairie Music Awards.

The video debut was followed by a surprisingly full-length performance which, within the confines of the tiny club, brought home the full force of Schroeder’s vocal range. Her equally impressive back-up band performed with skilled d precision, guiding her ably through almost every track from her album and a few new compositions as well.

The title of one of the evening’s selections, “Something Beautiful,” seems an apt description of the singer’s voice, which is quite a marvel to hear live. Aside from “Waiting” (worth the price of admission alone) the album itself contains several gemlike numbers polished to crystalline perfection and is well worth tracking down – as is Ms. Schroeder herself.

Toban: Did living and working in northern Brazil and Rio de Janeiro change your perspective as a songwriter?

Schroeder: I don’t think it changed me as a songwriter, but it did change me as a person. I find that if that changes, my song writing changes naturally. If I change the way that I look at the world, so does my worldview. I kind of find that the songs change on their own.

Toban: Did working in mental health give you a keener insight into the human condition than other folk or pop performers may have?

Schroeder: I hope not. I hope that everybody can find that kind of insight in different ways. It just kind of made me feel that everybody is pretty much the same – some of us have different problems, but we’re all still here.

Toban: Where did you get the title of your album, The Expectation of Home?

Schroeder: It’s kind of a play on words from the song “Peace.” I was thinking that home for me, was a metaphor for myself: finding yourself. Like all of the things you do, it’s a struggle to find yourself and to understand yourself a bit better. Another big thing on the album was for me to try and find out who I was and not being afraid that I wouldn’t find out.

Toban: Alienation and isolation are prominent themes on your album. Was the album a catharsis to help you deal with these themes?

Schroeder: Kind of, but not really. It just keeps coming up. You know, never write about the happy moment, because you don’t stop to analyze yourself when you’re happy. If something is bugging me the songs seem to come out more naturally.

Toban: Can you describe the process of creating your music? For example, do the lyrics come first or the melody?

Schroeder: I find that I start with a chorus, or some little nugget of the song and I work out words from there. It actually takes me a really long time to write a song.

Toban: who are your biggest influences – what would a top three desert island album’s list consist of?

Schroeder: I don’t really think in terms of albums. I would have to say U2, I really love them – especially the older stuff. “The Unforgettable Fire” is great. Also, Neil Finn from Crowded House – I really like what he’s doing now, and the last one would be Blue Rodeo. I feel like a broken record saying these bands all the time, but they are the ones I really love.

Toban: Are you planning on staying in Winnipeg or is a bigger city such as Toronto in your future?

Schroeder: Well, when I think about moving, it is kind of scary. I find that coming from the farm there is not really much action, but in Winnipeg you can find a better sense of community.

Toban: What kind of person were you in high school?

Schroeder: Loner, geek. I still am.

Toban: If you could relive one moment of your life, what would it be?

Schroeder: I try not to relive a lot of things if I can help it. I’d rather forget.

Toban: What is under your bed?

Schroeder: (bemused laughter) Nothing really right now, I just cleaned-up recently. But probably a few books.

Toban: What are you most afraid of?

Schroeder: I would definitely have to say the world in general.

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